Sports Card Selling Tips: BIN or Auction?

January 18th, 2013

Buy-It-Now (BIN) Tips:

When determining a BIN price, you can do one of two things:

    1. Set the price at the minimum amount you would take for your card and don’t allow offers
    2. Set the price higher than you expect but allow offers to be made

If your card is rare or the demand is currently high for your player, be sure to set a price that is higher than you’d require for the card, but not so high that you isolate or annoy potential bidders. For example, if a card is worth (in your opinion) around $100, but you think there may be a chance you can get $125 or more for it, feel free to set it at $175 or $200 with the option of having bidders send you an offer. If you set your price at $500, many potential bidders won’t even bother sending you an offer because they assume you’re insane and that you believe your card is worth five times its actual value.

One exception to the rule is if you are trying to sell an extremely rare, extremely valuable card and you just want to field offers. In this case, it is acceptable for you to put an astronomical BIN OBO on your card and simply wait for the offers to trickle in. For example, my friend Chris pulled the Andrew Luck Superfractor patch auto from 2012 Topps Platinum. He listed it at $10,000 and waited for offers. Not too surprisingly, he ended up receiving offers pretty close to his BIN price. He could have put the price at $20,000 if he wanted to, the principle would have been the same.

If you are not in a hurry to sell your card and know exactly what the card is worth to you, set it on a 30-day BIN and be patient. If it doesn’t sell, you may want to consider either dropping the price or hanging on to it.

Auction Tips:

    • During the NFL Season, try to make your auctions end on Sunday or Monday night
    • HOT cards sell for more in auction

If you have a hot card (like a Kaepernick auto after the Green Bay win) you should consider listing it as an auction so it would end on Sunday evening. Hot cards sell for a lot more in auctions than in BIN scenarios because people get “pot-committed” once they’ve clicked the “bid” button a few times. Moreover, it becomes a matter of pride that they WANT TO WIN the card. Each time someone presses the “bid” button and each time they refresh the page to see if the bid has increased, the collector becomes more and more attached to the card. Once emotion comes into play, logic and reasoning go out the window (e.g., women.)

Emotion causes people to bid much higher than they originally planned to and people become a lot more emotional when they’re sitting in front of the TV screen watching football (and possibly drinking.) Silly though it may sound, I actually believe alcohol consumption comes into play. The majority of collectors these days are 25-50 years old. Most people drink at night. This is one abstract (but IMO completely plausible) reason why auctions ending at night sell for more than auctions ending during the day. Obviously a large percentage of people are working during the day, which means it is more likely people will see auctions at night (and completely crush my theory,) but I think alcohol could play a small part in it, too. I know it has affected my bidding in the past.


Shipping Tips:

We all know USPS Priority Shipping prices have gone up. We all know that bubble mailers cost around $1.29 each. We all know that the minimum it costs to ship a card in a bubble mailer with Delivery Confirmation (DC) is between 4 and 5 dollars, depending on whether you are printing your postage at home (free DC) or shipping from a store. It also depends on whether you are recycling an old bubble mailer or buying a new one.

So does that mean you should charge five dollars for shipping?


If you were to see a card with $5.00 listed as the cheapest shipping method, I doubt you would bid on that card at all unless it was a $200 card and insurance was included in the shipping expense. The fact is, we are pretty much expected to take a hit shipping cards. The standard acceptable price for shipping 1-3 cards in a bubble mailer is between 2 and 3 dollars. You go higher than that and you risk alienating bidders who will just search for the same card with cheaper shipping. For some reason even $3.99 ticks me off when I’m a buyer…but as a seller I wish I could charge the $5 it is actually costing me to ship. Bottom line: eBay is for buyers, not sellers.

Tips for saving money on shipping:

    • Recycle old bubble mailers
    • Print your own postage at home (free DC)
    • Offer multiple shipping options

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4 Comments on “Sports Card Selling Tips: BIN or Auction?”

  1. Good points — thanks for the tips.

    You can get bubble mailers for a lot cheaper if you buy in bulk (25-50) in advance, rather than just getting a 5-pack at OfficeMax or someplace similar.

  2. Dustin Abernathy

    Dollar Trees or .99 cent stores are also not a bad option when it comes to bubble mailers.

  3. Great points, Josh and Dustin! Buying in bulk or from Dollar Stores is a great way to save. I buy in bulk offline and get mine for cheap, too.

  4. allformykids

    Great article, I am going to try to re-list and sell everything that I don’t care about or collect.

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